When I was an undergrad, I did a thematic sequence in geology. A thematic sequence is like a minor, only even more minor. I don’t remember much about rocks, but I distinctly remember what my professor said about Earth’s polarity. Earth, he said, is due for a magnetic polarity reversal. In fact, he said, it’s a little overdue. (—Record scratch—.) DaFUQ?
Yeah. Evidently, the geologic record indicates that every 10,000 years or so, Earth’s poles reverse. Magnetic north becomes magnetic south. I can’t remember why this happens or if we even have an explanation for it. In terms of geologic time, the switch is instantaneous. I, of course, pictured it happening/seriously wanted it to happen instantaneously in terms of our day-to-day concept of time. BOOM POW—all boats do 180s and sail the opposite direction. Boy Scouts get super-lost in the woods. Parents hang up their kids’ A+ homework inside the fridge.
Now, here’s what I think. I think this polarity reversal already happened. Just not in the place my geology professor thought. The polarity reversal wasn’t in the rocks this time. Through some crazy science mojo, the polarity reversal transmogrified from geologic phenomenon to philosophical phenomenon. Then, it bubbled up smack-dab in the middle of modern America.
In recent memory, America’s two most powerful poles of morality have been the evangelical church and Hollywood. They’re as far from one another as you can get and still be on Earth, and both have worked really hard to maintain the distance. The evangelical ethic based on a strict, exclusionary interpretation of the Bible in one corner. The Hollywood ethic based on whatever who cares in the other. Faith alone … plus the right (WINK) voting record … gets you that mansion in heaven vs. I’m-in-heaven-now-pass-me-the-blow-and-bring-on-the-dancing-girls.
Hollywood has suddenly and rightly begun policing itself. The news is filled with major bombshells, and not about La-La Land’s bit players, either. Some serious A-listers. Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis CK, Al Franken (who, despite his tenure in the Senate, still counts as Hollywood—or maybe the entire Senate counts as Hollywood).
The falls are happening so quickly that most of them have not yet had their days in court. But if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, there’s an awfully good chance it’s a duc-SEXUAL THUG. My guess is, sadly, they’ve done worse than what they’ve publicly been accused of doing. And the names we’ve heard in the past few months are likely the tip of the iceberg.
Cosby, to the best of my knowledge, is the only one involved in any kind of actual criminal court proceedings. Weinstein is likely next. Who knows about Spacey and CK and Franken and all the rest. Maybe they will and maybe they won’t do the time their crimes call for. Their legal teams are made up of depraved sharks barely down from their own coke benders. But in the court of public opinion—wherein which, somehow, Hollywood has given itself the role of lead prosecutor—they’re done. Their only hope in the biz is to lay low for 10 years, find Jesus, then pray for a call from Kirk Cameron.
Which brings me to the evangelicals. Evidently, sexual morality no longer matters to them. To be clear, when I say “sexual morality” in relation to evangelicalism, I’m trying as hard as I can to define it in the way evangelicals would define it for themselves. That is, for a given sexual behavior to be moral, it must pass biblical muster. So when I say, “Sexual morality plain doesn’t matter,” I mean the behavioral mandates found in the evangelical arbiter of morality (i.e., the Bible) can now be ignored. Ignored, but with some caveats. Caveat one, you must be a Republican running for office; and caveat two, while you don’t have to do Christianity, you must say Christianity in at least a partially convincing way.
The evangelicals have a sex problem. With the rise of Moral Majority, the evangelicals made sexual sins a key aspect of their brand, a definitive tenant, a (ahem) sacred cow. For perspective, go to your local Christian bookstore. Count how many books, not to mention how many versions of extant books, there are that attempt to confine and direct sexual behavior. In days gone by, high-profile evangelicals who deviated from the evangelical brand of sexuality or even veered into adultery (think anybody from Jimmy Swaggart to Amy Grant) were due a heapin’ helpin’ of public castigation. But now, those evangelicals could be … no, should be … no, God himself handpicked them to be senators and presidents.
Lest we forget, it’s likely Roy Moore sexually assaulted a child, and Donald Trump, a long time ago, discussed his preferred method of courtship: grabbing women by their [email protected]$!%$*. Neither man is repentant because neither man believes his behavior to be wrong. Which brings it full circle. The overwhelming support from evangelicals for Moore and Trump and other politicians of their ilk indicates that they, too, don’t see anything wrong—at best, not wrong enough—with sexual assault.
So, flip-flop, huh? Did you ever think we’d live to see the day when Hollywood gasped at its own criminal sexual deviancy and the evangelicals applauded sex monsters? What a country. At this rate, if that geologic polarity reversal ever does go down, nobody is going to notice. Except maybe my geology professor.
Paul Luikart is a writer whose work has appeared in a number of places over the years. His most recent book, “Animal Heart,” is available now from Hyperborea Publishing. Follow him on Twitter. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.